The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed a provincial law officer to apprise the court of steps being taken for formulating a law with regard to clearing and testing the fitness of CNG kits and cylinders being used in public and private vehicles.
The direction came on petitions of Muzamil Mumtaz Meo and Tariq Mansoor that sought court directives against the use of CNG kits and cylinders in public transport and school vans, and action against police officials for demanding a bribe from a rickshaw driver who died after setting himself on fire in protest at a traffic police office.
A division bench of the SHC, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, had earlier directed the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP), the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), the transport secretary and other stakeholders to formulate some standard operating procedure (SOP) with regard to testing the fitness and clearance of the CNG kits and cylinders being used in public and private vehicles.
An additional advocate general Sindh filed a statement along with minutes of the meeting in compliance with the court directives showing that some decisions were taken regarding regulating the use of CNG kits. According to the minutes, the law secretary was tasked with preparing a draft law on the CNG-related issues in cooperation with the mass transit department and the secretary of the transport, industries and commerce departments.
It was decided in the meeting that transport and mass transit department and the law department shall suggest a way forward for the checking of CNG vehicles and removal of illegal cylinders.
The provincial law officer informed the SHC that a notification had been issued by the provincial government under which district implementation committees had been constituted to implement the ban on the use of CNG/LPG cylinders in the vehicles of schools, colleges, universities and seminaries. The committees would also implement the CNG safety rules and devise a mechanism in accordance with the court directives.
To a court query as when further steps would be taken to legislate on the issue of CNG-fitted vehicles, the provincial law officer sought further time to inform the court about it. He assured the SHC that the district implementation committees would perform their responsibilities diligently in accordance with the terms of reference mentioned in the notification to avoid any untoward incident.
The SHC directed the provincial law officer to submit a progress report and adjourned the hearing till August 8. The Sindh government had earlier imposed a ban on the use of CNG cylinders in inter-city public transport in Sindh in 2015 in the larger interest of the public safety.
The SHC was earlier informed by the transport secretary that the basic responsibility in this regard vested in Ogra, which was the controlling authority for the issues raised in the petitions. He submitted that the HDIP was working under the supervision and control of Ogra and it was responsible to check the quality of CNG kits and cylinders.
Meo had submitted in his petition that the rickshaw driver had set himself on fire at the traffic police office in Saddar in protest after he was fined by the traffic police for not paying them a bribe a few days ago. The driver later died at a hospital.
The petitioner had stated that the rickshaw driver was forced to commit suicide as money had earlier been extorted from him at least three times. He alleged that it was a routine matter in Karachi that the traffic police demanded bribes from rickshaw drivers and motorcyclists, and imposed undue fines on them if they refused to pay bribes.